What is Families Managing Media?

Our History

In 2011, Melanie Hempe uncovered the dark world of video game addiction as she realized that her son’s gaming had finally crossed the line. She set out to help other struggling families and to her surprise had over 125 parents attend her first information meeting at a local school. From that meeting, the first book club for moms was organized and Families Managing Media (FMM) was born. Turns out, like Melanie, families everywhere were not prepared for the tidal wave of technology that was flooding their homes and children and teens were being lost in the world of video games and smartphones. Parents began to get answers to the chaos and quickly discovered that FMM’s simple solutions were resulting in life-changing experiences at home. Families Managing Media has delivered hundreds of seminars throughout the Charlotte area, writes for Charlotte Parent’s online blog, has been on local news stations like WCNC and WCCB, and been quoted in Real Simple and Psychology Today magazines. Families Managing Media is here to help parents reset their kid’s screen habits and reconnect their families.

Our Mission

Families Managing Media empowers parents to confidently develop a balanced digital media lifestyle. Focusing on the connection between brain development and media use, we provide proven solutions to reclaim kids and reconnect families in today’s digital world.

Our Team

Melanie Hempe, RN

Melanie is a nurse, mom of four, and a retired “Video-Game Cop Mom”! She’s been in your shoes: refereeing game content, setting limits on screen use, and determining best ages for smartphone purchases. Through her quest to solve the screen overuse problem in her own home and save her kids from disappearing in the virtual world, she has discovered the medical facts, simple tools, and practical solutions to eliminate screen conflicts in any home and is passionate about sharing this information with parents everywhere…as such Families Managing Media was founded.

Holley East
Executive Director

Holley is a mom of two who reset her parenting screen overuse when she discovered Melanie’s message at a local school parent-education night and knew she immediately needed to make some changes at home.  In her passion to increase the reach of Melanie’s counter-culture message and help other parents access the education in an easy to understand format, she joined the FMM team. With an Information & Decision Systems degree from Carnegie Mellon University, Holley is passionate about helping FMM get this message out. With her oldest now in middle school, she is determined to keep her family connected through alternative activities like family game nights, making dinner together, and good ‘ol fashioned outdoor play with the neighborhood kids.

Ellen Cotton
Public Relations Director

Ellen is a mom of four children who became involved with Families Managing Media when struggling with video game/screen overuse with one of her own children. She is passionate about helping other families through this struggle and sharing with them the benefits of non-screen activities for children of all ages. Ellen speaks to school and church groups throughout the Charlotte area for Families Managing Media in addition to teaching preschool and elementary Spanish for the past 12 years. She has a degree in Social Work and Spanish from Oakland University and enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, reading, playing board games and watching her boys play baseball, and her daughter run track.


Allison Nelson
Chief Financial Officer

Allison is a mom of two who became involved with Families Managing Media after attending one of Melanie’s original Kids’ Brains and Video Games seminars.  She learned how screens were negatively impacting her kids’ brain development and that was all it took.  Allison and her husband made minor changes in their home based on the information they received and were confident in their decisions.  It wasn’t about taking all the technology out of their home, but rather learning how to better equip her kids to use technology more purposefully in our digitally-crazed world.  Allison joined the FMM team to support their accounting practices behind the scenes and hopes to help Melanie and the FMM team to share their message across America.

Dawn Poulterer Woods


Dawn has been a part of the inception of Families Managing Media and serves in various capacities as a writer, speaker and coach. Her background in education and counseling has had her working with families and teenagers for over 20 years. Dawn has witnessed screen addiction steal relationships and derail the path of purpose in many people’s lives. Her passion is to use the platform of speaking and training as a means to foster human flourishing. She is available to speak as well as coach children, teens, and parents through the process of reclaiming their families.

Board of Directors

Tom Kakadelis

Ronald L. Brown, MD
Medical Advisory Chairman

Holley East
Executive Director

Eason Futch

Melanie Hempe, RN

Ronald G. Sherrill

Medical Advisory Board

Victoria Dunckley, MD

Sonny Long, DDS, MS

John Rosemond

Raymond L. Swetenburg, MD

Kenneth D. Weeks, Jr. MD


Andy Caldwell

Susan Durgin

Amy Eytchison

Jennifer Harvey

Shari Tuz

Our Advisors

Dr. Hilarie Cash is co-founder of reSTART Life, LLC, the first long-stay retreat program in the US or Canada for adults who are experiencing serious problems with their digital screen use (www.netaddictionrecovery.com). She began her pioneering work in this new field in the mid-90’s. By 1999 she had co-founded an outpatient clinic called Internet/Computer Addiction Services (now closed) in Redmond, WA. In 2008, she co-authored the book Video Games and Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control and in 2009, she co-founded reSTART Life. All of these ongoing endeavors have brought her recognition as one of the nation’s leading experts in the growing field of Internet addiction. She is a public speaker, workshop presenter and has appeared, among other places, on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NPR, PBS, the BBC, and in U.S.A.Today, U.S. News and World Report, NewsWeek, the Times of London, Wired, GQ, and the New York Times.

Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D., is an award-winning integrative child adult psychiatrist who combines conventional, natural, and environmental medicine to optimize treatment and minimize the need for psychotropic medication. She is the author of Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time.   Dr. Dunckley has found that regular use of interactive screen devices can easily overstimulate and stress a child’s nervous system—particularly in children with underlying vulnerabilities—triggering a variety of stubborn symptoms that masquerade as psychiatric disorders. As such, Dr. Dunckley contends that screen-time is a major contributor to the epidemic of mental health issues, learning difficulties, and overuse of medication in children.  Conversely, she’s discovered that a strict, extended electronic fast followed by mindful screen management single-handedly improves mood, focus, sleep, and behavior, regardless of the child’s diagnosis.  It also reduces the need for medication and conserves health and education resources. In the past ten years, her Reset Program has helped more than five hundred children, teens and young adults who failed to respond to conventional treatment alone.

Recently named one of “America’s Top Psychiatrists,” Dr. Dunckley is a frequent media commentator and has appeared on such outlets as the Today show, NBC Nightly News, Fox News LA, and NPR.  She currently practices at the Centre for Life in Los Angeles, hosts the blog “Mental Wealth” on Psychology Today, and is an active board member for Doctors for Safer Schools. For more information visit www.DrDunckley.com.

Dr. Andrew Doan is a recognized expert in digital media addictions. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins, the premier neuroscience training program in the world.  With a doctoral degree in neuroscience, his background in molecular neuroscience adds in depth knowledge into the areas of Internet Addiction, Video Game Addiction, and Technology Addiction. He has had over 10 years of experience doing research on learning, memory, and brain development and spends 80% of his time in medical research as Head of Addictions & Resilience Research for the US Navy in the Department of Mental Health. Dr. Doan is author of Hooked on Games. To learn more, visit www.andrew-doan.com.

Richard Freed, Ph.D., is a child and adolescent psychologist and leading authority on raising children in the digital age. He believes that children should grow up to use technology productively, but too often sees kids overuse video games, social media, and other entertainment technologies at the expense of what they need most: a connection to family and school. He encourages parents, teachers, and other caregivers to be the strong guides children and teens need in this digital age.

Dr. Freed is the author of the book Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age, a contributor to the Huffington Post, and has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and other news outlets. He speaks regularly to groups of parents, teachers, and health professionals on digital-age parenting, video game addiction, and fostering school success amid a world of distraction. Receiving his professional training at Cambridge Hospital / Harvard Medical School and the California School of Professional Psychology, he now lives in Walnut Creek, California with his wife and two daughters. As a family, they enjoy going on nature hikes, barbecuing, and playing in the yard. To learn more, visit RichardFreed.com

Award-winning psychotherapist Jason Calder has been quoted in The Atlantic magazine and his work has been featured on CNN and All Kinds of Therapy. Since 1999 Mr. Calder has spent the majority of his career treating adolescents who struggle with problematic digital media use and those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In early 2015 Jason developed Outback Unplugged; likely the first inpatient program in the country specifically designed to treat video game, internet and smartphone addictions in teens.

Mr. Calder has given presentations around the country to mental health professionals, physicians and families on the neurological effects of process addictions, supportive treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders, and effective experiential interventions to help adolescents find greater purpose and meaning in their lives. He can be reached at familycounselor [at] gmail [dot] com

Cris Rowan, CEO of Sunshine Coast Occupational Therapy Inc. and Zone’in Programs Inc. is a member in good standing of the BC College of Occupational Therapists and holds BSc’s in both Occupational Therapy and Biology from UBC, and is a certified Sensory Integration Specialist. Cris has been working as an occupational therapist for the past 30 years in pediatrics and ergonomics, and is considered an expert on the impact of technology in home, school, clinic and workplace settings. Cris has presented internationally over 300 workshops on impact of technology on development, behavior, learning, and productivity. Cris is a member of the Institute for Digital Media and Child Development and teaches a doctoral level course on technology impact on humans at Pacific University in Portland, Oregon. Cris recently authored the book “Virtual Child – The terrifying truth about what technology is doing to children’, writes monthly for her blog www.movingtolearn.ca, and publishes the Child Development Series Newsletter of collated research and news.

Dawn Poulterer has her undergraduate degree in English from Messiah College and her master’s degree in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She taught high school English, New Testament Survey and Faith in Culture for over a decade and loved every minute of it. Dawn has been employed as a counselor in both private practice as well as in the school system. She has worked with adolescents, families, college age individuals, children, couples, and sexual offenders. Creativity and hope set the tone for her work with those who are in significant life challenges. Dawn speaks, writes and counsels for Families Managing Media, a non-profit helping families with video game addiction and social media anxiety.